Patent Lawsuits Filed Against Microsoft, Apple

Operating-system makers Microsoft and Apple Computer are being sued for patent infringement over the use of Web-based software-updating technology.

West Conshohocken, Pa.-based intellectual-property company BTG Plc. announced Tuesday that it has filed suit against the companies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. accusing them of infringing on a patent for Web-based software updates. Microsoft was also sued for patent-infringement over its active windows and offline browsing technologies in Windows.

BTG said the lawsuits are asking for unspecified damages for what it called past infringing activity and an injunction against future use of the technology.

BTG alleged that the two operating systems, as well as Microsoftis Office application suite, use technologies covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,557,054, granted in April 2003. The suit said Apple and Microsoft uses patented Web-enabled software update technologies to automatically fix or enhance a users personal computer with anything from new virus software to updates for an Apple iPod, for instance. Apple has automatic software update technology into its OS X operating systems.

BTG International accuses Microsoft of infringing on three U.S. patents dating from September 2000 to December 2003. They are patent numbers 6,125,388, 6,611,862 and 6,658,464.

The company said in a statement that the lawsuits resulted from Microsoft and Apple not "entering into licensing agreements on commercially reasonable terms." It is not known how long negotiations had been going on with both companies to reach an agreement.

BTG said it holds a license to all of the patents from owner Teleshuttle Technologies LLC. Teleshuttle Technologies and parent company Teleshuttle Corp. are also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuits.

Richard Reisman, the inventor named on the patents, is the president of New York-based Teleshuttle Corp., which is a consulting service and developer of e-media and e-business technology.

Neither officials from Microsoft nor from Apple could be immediately reached for comment.